Wednesday Night #1504

Written by  //  December 29, 2010  //  Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  2 Comments

Throughout the ages the balance of power has shifted from one nation to another.  The older generation of Earthlings today have seen a shift in the identity of most successful nations from the U.K. to the U.S., leading to the obvious conclusion that (ignoring the role of colonial countries as possibly having been a factor) right would prevail over wrong, that democracy, government for the people by the people, was the ultimate yardstick.  If proof were needed, the defeat of Nazi Germany and containment and ultimate collapse of the U.S.S.R. provided the necessary reassurance.
The recent economic realignment of nations has seen Communist China rise as an incredibly successful economic power on the world scene.  As the major supplier of the world’s rare earth minerals, vital to the production green energy and electronics, China has announced a proposed thirty-five percent reduction in exports of these vital minerals inevitably leading to a rapid price rise.

Israel and the West Bank settlements
Our unshaken belief in the success, hence superiority of democracy over oligarchy or dictatorship has, perhaps, been shaken not only by China’s success but by division over support versus criticism of Israel in its current standoff over West Bank settlements.  Although this is the focus and the aphorism relating to the relationship between the victors and the spoils appears to be inapplicable following the 1967 six day war, with the vanquished attempting to set preconditions for peace talks, it would appear that the leaders on both sides, for personal or political reasons seem to be unwilling to view the larger picture in a more logical manner.  Logically, construction of housing on the West Bank is illogical and unnecessary and appears to be continuing for political rather than logical reasons, in order to curry favour with current and future residents and government supporters who claim ownership on religious grounds. [Editor’s note: See What If Israel Ceases to Be a Democracy?]
On the other hand, Israel succeeded in making peace with Jordan, Egypt and other Muslim states, some overtly, some covertly.
Although it is to be hoped that that common ancestry and current similarities will lead to a rational peaceful agreement between the warring parties, even if nothing changes politically, ultimately, the rising Israeli population in a very confined space will result in a serious shortage of living space, undoubtedly the least worst of all possible outcomes. Certainly adding an element of violence is a poor way of arriving at a solution.

Iran and nuclear weapons
Probably of greater concern than the relationship between  Israel and the Palestinians is that of the perceived threat of Iran and nuclear weapons, not regarded in the same light by all Wednesday Nighters present.  Iran is perceived by some as a threat not only to Israel but to the world.  They describe the Revolutionary Guards initiated by the Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruholla Khomeini as having morphed into a world assassination machine and Iran as being a major threat to world peace.

The market
As 2010 approaches its end, it is viewed as having been an excellent year for investors, mostly driven by gold stocks.  Although institutional stocks have not risen appreciably, oils are expected to be potentially weak in January following gains, following which another opportunity for oil and gold to again rise.  High-tech stocks appear to be rising after a lacklustre ten years.


The final Wednesday Night of 2010, a year that – on balance – has not earned a gold star.

From Afghanistan and Assange to Deepwater Horizon, Haiti, the ‘Turkish flotilla’, Volcanic Ash and  the country-formerly-known-as Zaire, events have been tumultuous, often controversial and rife with malaise at best, misery at worst. Even microfinance in India is now attracting highly negative attention. Democracy (and therefore Global governance), despite Kimon’s best efforts, suffered setbacks and as we head into 2011, it looks as though Hungary, as it assumes the presidency of the EU, is enthusiastically joining the ranks of the more autocratic regimes. On the brighter side, there is the Tonga experience – of which we would hardly be aware, were it not for the intrepid Cleo – although we read that all is not going smoothly in the transition to democracy. Actually, it sounds as though some are catching on too fast.
For Canada, there were a few golden moments (notably Haitian relief efforts and the Vancouver Olympics along with a credible performance in the OECD measurement of scholastic achievement), but the words prorogation, G8 and G20, long-form census and Rights & Democracy conjure up some problematic intervals.
The list is hardly all-inclusive, however, it gives pause for thought and indications of other paths to follow.  One that does not (yet) have a following at WN is Green Supply Chains, but there seems to be promising news about initiatives – at least in the U.S.  For more upbeat news, Best of What’s New 2010: Our 100 Innovations of the Year … ultimate winner, [Groasis] an ingeniously simple and inexpensive green box that will make it possible to grow trees in the Sahara.
On a lighter note, check out Obama and Biden’s 2010 Year-end review!
Looking forward, the Christian Science Monitor sounds a hopeful note (for some) in its brief forecast : The world in 2011: Trends and events to watch in every region
Rarely has a year dawned with so much more promise for the world’s poor than for its rich than 2011.
The US, Europe, and Japan will continue to face months of economic hardship. Much of the rest of the world, however, can look forward to healthy growth amid signs that most developing countries are managing to sustain their recovery from the global financial crisis.
As we wind down the Year 2010 – with little regret – we ask for your assessments and the areas we have missed, aspirations, hopes, calculated guesses and prognostications for the coming year.

2 Comments on "Wednesday Night #1504"

  1. Ron Meisels December 29, 2010 at 9:15 am ·

    Sorry about your assessment of 2010 not earning a gold star!
    We certainly earned a lot of GOLDs, if not stars, but stock rewards!
    Some Gold stocks are up 50-75-100-125 even 150%!!!

    But I agree on other areas, Nazi sentiments rising again in Hungary,
    mess continues in Haiti, no sign of peace in Israel (despite my Netanyahu),
    probable problems (say this out loud!) in Quebec, etc.

    But, looking ahead it looks like a good year (for the markets) in 2011.

  2. Guy Stanley December 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm ·

    In case it may help the notetakers, here are my three or four takeaways of substance: (1) general agreement that Israel has lost the moral high ground it had in the west during its founding period and through the 6-day and Yom Kippur wars–mainly because of its settlement and occupation policies. (2) The solutions depend on Israeli political reform but the precise connection between that and finding accommodation with its neighbours was not clarified: it is by no means a given that the two are necessarily linked. They may be alternatives. (3) Its demographic challenges will certainly force changes on Israel one of which may well be an overhaul of its Staatsidee (particularly the theocratic elements of its national identity), but again this issue wasn’t pursued, as we went off after other quarry. (4) All the discussion around the demonization of Iran and competitive cloak and dagger ops skirted the main issue raised by the Israeli bomb question (and here I feel I failed to articulate this) namely the erosion of the cold war deterrence structure in the region and the failure to replace it anything remotely equivalent in credibility.(Hence for example, the comment that operations, only operations, matter–but are ops an effective substitute for a regional deterrence structure guaranteed by, say the US and Russia? We got some of the nuances, especially since the WikiLeaks reminded us of the ambivalent role of the Saudis and other mainly Sunni states in the region. But there was no time to go further on this one.

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